There are two types of exercise you should be doing: aerobic-based (“with oxygen” = aerobic) and anaerobic-based (“without oxygen” = anaerobic) exercise.
- Aerobic or “cardio” is literally when we are exercising and breathing lots of air. This exercise is continuous and gets you breathing at a faster rate than you do normally throughout the day. While there are many different ways you can do aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, biking) it should be hard enough so that you are breathing heavier, but can still comfortably talk. This way, you can sustain it for 30 minutes and fat burning becomes more effective.
- Anaerobic exercise is commonly referred to as resistance (strength) training, where you’re using and toning your muscles. It’s critical for weight loss and a missing component in most commercial weight loss programs. If you skip the strength training while dieting, you’re likely going to harm your metabolism. Why? You’ll risk burning lean muscle tissue! In fact, you can lose up to 3 pounds of lean muscle tissue for every 10 pounds you lose if you fail to add anaerobic exercise to your program.
Muscle burns calories, so when you come off a diet that didn’t incorporate resistance training, your metabolism has slowed down because of muscle loss. As a result, the fat comes back on faster, but the muscle doesn’t! Sure, you may look thinner and weigh less when it’s over, but your body composition has suffered. If you go back on a diet without anaerobic exercise, it will happen again – it’s called “yo-yo” dieting.
The Good News!
If you’re “de-conditioned”, or have done very little exercise you’re in luck – fat burning occurs at a lower intensity than you may realize. After 15 years of operating a women’s weight loss program, I have seen women struggle to lose weight when the intensity of their workouts was too high for the amount of carbohydrates they were eating. The harder you workout, the more muscle glycogen (i.e. carbs) you burn, not fat. Once they decreased their intensity, the weight started coming off!
Work into your weight loss goals a few low intensity, Anaerobic exercises to keep your muscle density up and your body fat down!